Cameron and Lowell Perry are as different as two brothers can be.
Cameron, 18, is outgoing and full of jokes. Sarcastic wit keeps him from taking himself too seriously, while a love of the outdoors and fast machines gives him the excitement he needs to fill his role as a self-proclaimed thrill-seeker.
"I like big snowmachines, big trucks. The bigger, the more fun," said the avid mountain biker, snowmachiner and rock climber.
Lowell, 16, tends to be the quieter sort.
"I'm the kind of person who likes to read a lot, hang out with friends a lot," Lowell said. "I think of myself as an artist, though I don't draw or anything. My friends describe me as a 'renaissance man.'"
Lowell also enjoys the outdoors, but he could do without the machines. And where Cameron cracks jokes, the spiritual younger brother with an interest in someday attending seminary tends toward the serious.
Still, despite their different personalities, the two Soldotna brothers are about to share a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Despite a two-year age gap, both brothers will graduate from high school this week: Cameron from Skyview High School on Wednes-day and Lowell from Soldotna High School on Tuesday. Then, they both have been offered a chance to attend a four-week scholars program at the University of Cambridge starting in July.
The Cambridge College Pro-gramme, founded in 1986, offers a rigorous course of study for students in ninth through 12th grades. Select students not only have the opportunity to travel abroad, but also choose from 52 course offerings taught by some of the world's most prestigious scholars. And they can earn college credits along the way.
Both brothers are looking forward to the trip.
Lowell has signed up for classes in writing and literature, history and engineering, while Cameron plans to take classes in British Intelligence, astrophysics and quantum physics. He's also dying to meet Stephen Hawking, the acclaimed theoretical physicists and author who teaches at the university.
"And, of course, we'll compare notes and share what we've learned," added Lowell, explaining that the two brothers plan to room together during the program.
There's only one hitch.
Though both brothers have outstanding qualifications and work to support their education, the Cambridge program does not offer scholarships. And though they have a solid start on fund-raising, coming up with the nearly $5,000 apiece to pay for the program by the end of May might be difficult.
The boys' mother, Rebecca Hinsberger, who beams with pride over her sons' accomplishments, is doing her best to help out, and the boys are asking friends and family to make contributions to their Cambridge fund rather than give traditional graduation presents. They also are seeking scholarships from area organizations and industries, and Rebecca has set up a bank account for community donations.
After all, education is an investment.
The knowledge the boys share -- and the college credits they gain -- is bound to help the two boys get ahead on their college and career plans. And they have some ambitious plans.
Cameron, who already has earned his structural and pipe welding certifications and works for Rozak Excavating, plans to attend Boise State University in the fall. He plans to pursue a degree in civil engineering, followed by a master's degree in engineering management, as well as a second bachelor's degree in business administration. Then, he said, maybe a doctorate in physics.
He hopes to start his own company someday, and already has big dreams for what that company will do. One division, he said, will be excavating or construction. Another will be devoted to experimental technologies using hydrogen, which he believes will be an alternative energy source for the world. Yet a third division will be devoted to documentary-style movie-making (a current hobby he attributes to one of his favorite teachers, Clark Fair).
The fourth division will be devoted to building refugee housing for Palestinians in the war-torn Middle East, added Lowell.
The younger brother, who has been doing a work study program with the Assembly of God Church in Soldotna, plans to attend Kenai Peninsula College in the fall to take care of his general education requirements. As an added bonus, the church has offered by pay his tuition if he continues to mentor with the youth pastor. After KPC, Lowell isn't sure where he wants to finish school, but he has plenty of ideas of what he likes to do.
For one thing, he enjoys writing. In fact, he recently won a contest sponsored by the Women's Resource and Crisis Center in Kenai for a poem he wrote. But, Lowell said, writing may not be a career choice.
Instead, he'll probably pursue a career as an electrical engineer, while writing on the side. He said he also hopes to attend seminary, though he doesn't want to be a pastor.
"I looked at a Web site for a seminary once. There are lots of different master's (degrees) you can get," he said. "I just kind of want to learn everything."
He also wants to spend at least a year studying at a Christian university in Israel, he said.
"I'm really into God, and Israel is a big part of that," he said. "I find it interesting."
The boys know their dreams are big, but they like it that way.
Each named three teachers who stood out making their high school days a success and helping them build their dreams.
Clark Fair was the teacher who helped inspire Cameron's interest in film, but he also wanted to thank language arts teacher Susan Wheeler and science teacher Dave Schmidt for their influence on his life.
Lowell noted English teacher Mike Druce, marine biology teacher Bruce Rife and principals of technology instructor Pat Nolden for their hand in his education.
But the boys' ambition isn't all from outside sources. Both are simply goal-oriented individuals, and neither is interested in letting life pass him by.
"I asked myself one question back in my cannery days when I was 16," Cameron recalled. "I thought about my life on a time line and where I was going. I put myself in an 80-year-old's shoes and asked myself what in my life was worth doing, what benefited the world around me and if I was satisfied.
"My theory is that if you want to do something and do it well, you have to have a positive attitude, you've got to have determination and exploration."
Lowell admitted his personal philosophy is a little more vague.
"I just know what I'm good at and what I like to do," he said. "I like to learn, so going to college is necessary for me. I'll go through life and figure it out as I go. My philosophy is that if something can possibly help you in any way and there's nothing negative about it, then why not?
"So I'll probably do everything, and I'll probably turn out all right. I won't be just sitting and doing nothing."
To contribute to Cameron and Lowell's Cambridge fund, send a donation to Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, 43874 Sterling Highway, Soldotna, AK 99610. Checks should be made payable to Alaska USA FCU with "For credit to account 1080823" written in the memo line.
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